Should you allow customers into the service bays to observe technicians working or should you exclude them? I can think of good reasons to support either side of this argument. This is hardly a new issue in the automotive repair industry. To the contrary, it seems to be an ongoing, unsettled debate among tire dealers and service shop operators. For the moment, let me review sensible reasons—above and beyond potential insurance liability issues—for excluding “civilians” from the service bays altogether. In a perfect world, the service bays would look more like operating rooms than work areas for auto repair. There would be no debris or spillage anywhere; the floors would glisten as if they had just been mopped and polished. Meanwhile, technicians in the perfect world wear unsoiled lab coats. There would be no tools scattered around, nor any bundles of test leads in or around vehicles. Best of all, everyone in the perfect world would appear calm, collected and focused. There would not appear to be any wasted motion or any messy, noisy or risky-looking procedures taking place. But both medical and automotive professionals work in a real—meaning imperfect—world. Successful, real-world procedures in hospitals and service bays are designed to yield results. This means diagnosing problems and then fixing them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Typically, these accepted, effective procedures were not designed for anything but professional observation. Rightfully, they're really not intended for public inspection. Coincidentally, many routine med-ical procedures are the same as or similar to automotive techniques. For instance, doctors and surgeons cut, drill, grind, extract, bond, heat, chill and burn. They pinch off and bypass circuits, apply vacuum and pressure as needed. What's more, doctors use electrical equipment to start, stop and/or regulate various body functions. Indeed, some medical procedures fascinate a percentage of the populace. But I'd wager that a majority of common people would find these procedures scary, confusing and possibly disgusting. Simply put, watching diagnosis and repair of the human body wouldn't necessarily boost the trust or confidence of a non-medical observer. Like its medical counterpart, automotive repair and diagnosis may appear semi-chaotic, noisy, dirty and messy. For instance, de-carbonizing a neglected engine doesn't look or sound particularly appealing. Torching off rusted suspension or exhaust parts isn't especially attractive. The sound of a slide hammer or air chisel operating isn't likely to spur warm, fuzzy feelings in most motorists. And sometimes there's no “Martha Stewart-approved” technique for draining coolant from some vehicles. (The tech simply mops the floor before proceeding with the rest of the job.) There's an old saying in debate and politics that you're not gaining when you're always explaining. Suppose you allowed motorists to observe the work from a safe distance—some kind of fenced-off or roped-off viewing area, perhaps in a waiting room via video hookup. The challenge is that many automotive procedures we take for granted could raise needless questions and concerns among motorists. Therefore, service personnel may find themselves wasting time explaining and justifying normal procedures. Obviously, there's a limited amount of selling time available to service salespeople. Therefore, the time they might spend defending routine procedures could be devoted to selling needed services, follow-up sales calls, explaining features of certain tires, etc. Last but not least, many competent technicians don't perform their best when they feel that they're under a microscope or in a “fish bowl.” To them, customer supervision equals needless prying eyes.
Reasons to exclude customers from bays
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